TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on Loki (2021)

A review on American Television miniseries, Loki (2021). The mini-series is created by Michael Waldron and directed by Kate Herron. The show stars Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Owen Wilson and Sophia Di Martino. The show is a continuation of the saga from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is a Disney Plus Original series.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Kate Herron
  • Cinematography by Autumn Durald Arkapaw
  • Music by Natalie Holt
  • Edited by Paul Zucker, Calum Ross and Emma McCleave
  • Created by Michael Waldron
  • Production by Marvel Studios
  • Distributed by Disney Platform Distribution 

+ Note

The concept of Loki TV series was first introduced as a core part of the Phase Four MCU content. Since the success of Loki as a character in The Avengers (2012) and other MCU films, it was clear that Tom Hiddleston might reprise his iconic role and will be explored much more as a stand alone character. The series explores the concept of branching timelines which were first introduced in Avengers: Endgame (2019) where upon “disruption of the pre-planned events”, the past does not change but rather a whole new timeline is introduced. After the disruption of the main timeline by Loki in Avengers: Endgame (2019), the series plays as a redemption arc for the character as he follows through different versions of his own self due to the possibility of different timeline “variants’ “.

After WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki is the third in the Marvel/ Disney Plus series which brought worldwide praise from critics, especially for Tom Hiddleston’s effortless performance as the famous Norse Mythology trickster. 

+ Main Cast

  1. Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  2. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer
  3. Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15
  4. Eugene Cordero as Casey
  5. Tara Strong voices Miss Minutes
  6. Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius

+ Plot

After Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) devious escape with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame (2019), he ends up getting arrested by an organization called  Time Variance Authority (TVA). Their sole mission to avoid disruption of the timeline and capture ‘Variants’ who were responsible for the timeline split from the main continuity. At the TVA, Loki meets agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) who believes that Loki could be used for a mission that has been plaguing the TVA for a long duration of time now; to capture a renegade Variant who is hiding in the different timelines of the Marvel Universe.

As the story progresses, Loki and Mobius soon realize that something does not seem right about the TVA and combine strengths in order to search for the truth.

+ High Points

i – After watching the last episode, I can sincerely concur that Loki is the best Marvel/ Disney Plus show to date. Tom Hiddleston is once again fantastic as the charming yet devious Loki and the rest of the cast contributes wonderfully to the convoluted story of Timelines in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While such thematic elements can get tricky at times, Marvel has done a brilliant job in maintaining a balanced view and moved the story along each of the six episodes. 

ii – Speaking of great performances, Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson work seamlessly as a buddy cop movie duo where the banter is fun and never gets overbearing like in some of the lesser MCU films. At this point, I feel Tom Hiddleston can play Loki with his eyes shut whereas Owen Wilson is a welcome addition to the MCU family with his dry dialogue delivery and wry humor. 

iii – Another vital character that is introduced in Loki is Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie. I cannot talk much about her character as it would prove to be a major spoiler for the show but suffice to say, she is very charismatic whenever she is alongside Loki onscreen. 

iv – I think what should be most widely applauded about Loki is the writing. Michael Waldron and team have done a really special job in bringing a whole new concept of TVA into the MCU without disrupting anything around the already established storylines from the previous Three phases of the MCU. The episodes move at a brisk pace, provide vital details along the way and most importantly, have a keen eye on character progression for each individual throughout the series. With such a convoluted plot involving timelines, the writing team has done a stupendous job throughout the 6 episodes. Well done!

v – Some of the cinematography by Autumn Durald Arkapaw is truly inventive and much more creative than the previous two Marvel/ Disney Plus series. The frame travels alongside our main cast, explores the TVA’s corridors in the earlier episodes but pulls back in the later episodes, revealing odd and ominous landscapes (a galore of Marvel easter eggs!).

vi – The Music by Natalie Holt is haunting and memorable. The preference of introument’s lower bass range proves ideal for the series as it meticulously mixes vintage Sci-Fi elements with slow melancholy. 

vii – The Costume Designs, Special Effects and Set Design are all praiseworthy. What could truly be admired about Disney Plus is that they have undeniable trust in their Marvel content and are willing to financially back it up all the way. When they don’t, you can see the mediocre CGI in films like Black Panther (2018).

viii – Where both the previous Marvel/ Disney Plus shows (WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) staggered for me were the final episode. It was a barrage of unnecessary epic battles with virtually no real organic progression towards it. Thankfully Loki avoids all that and concludes the story according to the previous events leading up to it. A new character is revealed in the last episode which systematically changes much of the Phase Four and could prove to be a worthy foe for the next generation of the Avengers. I cannot reveal much but the actor who plays the role is just simply outstanding in this. Whenever he was on screen, he clearly hijacked it and the mesmerizing performance was just an icing on the Loki cake.

+ Low Points

i – With all that is great and praiseworthy about Loki, there are problems that could’ve been ironed out during the writing process, mainly the over reliance of exposition. During the first two episodes, there were just way too many scenes with 10 minute long explanations about what the TVA is, how it works and what it accomplishes. To soften the blow, the 1920s style animated character ‘Miss Minutes’ was introduced and while that does work to a certain extent, the exposition still continues on in the next few episodes which slightly bogs down the pacing of the show. A tighter, more fluid progression of scenes were needed and while it is never detrimental, it would have surely been improved upon.

SPOILER ALERT!: (From here on out, there will be spoilers for the show. If you still haven’t seen the show and would like to see it, you can skip directly to Overall section):

ii – The romance between the two Loki variants was not organically earned by the show. Although it’s an interesting concept, the romance did feel a bit rushed and perhaps, some might feel it to be unnecessary to the overarching story. 

iii –  The show looks really dark… and I don’t mean the tone. It is literally low on brightness at times. Whether it was to compensate on the greenscreen/ CGI backgrounds is anyone’s guess but a bit of vibrance would have made the moving images more appealing to look at.

+ Overall

Loki is a blast from start to finish! It respects and understands its cast of characters brilliantly while does not shy away from pushing the complex boundaries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rate : 4.25 out of 5 stars

TV series

Mr. Khan’s Review on WandaVision (Ep 1-3) (2021)

A review on American Television miniseries, WandaVision (2021). The miniseries is directed by Matt Shakman and stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda/ Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision. The show is a continuance of the saga from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is a Disney Plus Original series.

+ Crew

  • Directed by Matt Shakman
  • Cinematography by Jess Hall
  • Music by Christophe Beck
  • Produced by Chuck Hayward
  • Created by Jac Schaeffer
  • Production by Marvel Studios
  • Distributed by Disney Platform Distribution 

+ Note

WandaVision is continuation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Phase 4) where we get to explore more the relationship between the two popular Marvel characters; Scarlet Witch and Vision. The series is cleverly disguised as an American vintage comedy sitcom with multi camera setup and canned laughter from the audience in a (supposedly) TV Studio. WandaVision is clearly inspired from 50s-60s sitcoms like ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘Bewitched’ and later in color, ‘The Brady Bunch’, where situational comedy plays a key role to the show’s premise. Since Disney Plus has only released three episodes up till now, it is still unclear where they are heading with this but one can safely assume, WandaVision is unlike anything MCU has produced up till now.

+ Main Cast

  1. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  2. Paul Bettany as Vision
  3. Debra Jo Rupp as Mrs. Hart
  4. Fred Melamed as Arthur Hart
  5. Kathryn Hahn as Agnes
  6. Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau
  7. Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
  8. Randall Park as Jimmy Woo

+ Plot

WandaVision starts off in 1950s suburban America. A husband and a loving wife have just moved in a house next door but unbeknownst to the neighbourhood, they are no ordinary couple. In fact, they are the famous Avengers; Scarlet Witch and Vision who hide their super powers in order to live a happy, wholesome life. But something doesn’t seem right about this scenario. It’s almost too… perfect? How did present day Avengers end up in decades old American TV sitcoms? Where or how did they enter this delightful comedy of errors? What is exactly wrong with WandaVision?

+ High Points

i – The “I Love Lucy” meets “Bewitched” 50s situational comedy is perfectly replicated to a tee. The dialogue, costume design, make up, Production design; it perfectly fits to the vision (no pun intended) of what Marvel Studios were going for.

ii – Since working together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany have really grown accustomed to each other’s performances and are just picture perfect. For this show to work, their onscreen chemistry is undeniably vital and it’s always a treat to see them together onscreen.

iii – Ever since the trailer for the show came out, WandaVision felt unique and bold to what MCU fans were, for many years, accustomed to. After the end of the Thanos and the Infinity stones saga, MCU needed to move into a fresh new direction as the lack of innovative ideas made MCU films (for the most part) extremely predictable. And WandaVision does exactly that.

iv – The dialogues and humor of the show is witty, charming and at times, also very dark. The show does have a slight “David Lynch” surrealist vibe to it. One minute, you are witnessing a cute sing and dance number, the next you see someone on the dinner table, choking himself on a piece of meat. I loved it!

v – The multiple opening theme songs/ jingles are memorable and composed wonderfully by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez and Christophe Beck.

vi – The “Hand drawn” animations in between live action set-pieces play wonderfully to the overall vibe and atmosphere of the show. Love these little but essential touches that they’ve given to it!

vii – The “advertisements” in between the show are the “Bees knees!”. ‘Nuff said!

viii – Although only 3 episodes are out at the moment, the show has me hooked! The story and pacing takes its time but is extremely rewarding in the grand scheme of things. Let’s see where it all leads us to.

+ Low Points

i – The length of each episode is inconsistent. Not a huge drawback by any stretch of the imagination but old vintage TV shows had very strict time limitations. So if the show is going for that, might as well stick to a consistent 3 Act structure and the time constraints that come with making a TV broadcast episode.

ii – Although it’s hinted that the show doesn’t actually take place in decades old American history (or does it?), the racial diversity in the show seems too modern for the 1950s sequences and takes you out of the show time and time again. Segregation was unfortunately very prevalent in the US in the 50s so to see the characters mention contempt for the “Bolsheviks/ Communists” but are fine and dandy with a colored person sitting next to them at the dinner table, it’s just odd and the show seems a bit confused as to what it really wants to be. Even in a ‘make believe’ reality, the horrors of history should never be ignored (the perfect example could be the highly underrated 1998 film Pleasantville).

iii – Even after 3 episodes, the mystery of “what reality they are living in” might be a tad bit obvious to loyal MCU fans. Perhaps we all might be rightfully swerved by the end of the season. 

iv – Among all the episodes available, episode 3 was the weakest due to its lack of focus to the overall narrative and the situational comedy slightly overstaying its welcome. But cliffhanger at the end did make up for it I suppose.

+ Overall

WandaVision is fun, eerie and exactly what MCU needed to kick start their ‘Phase 4’ list of films and TV shows. The performances are wonderful by the two main leads and the show proves that Superheroes are not all about “Good Guy vs Bad Guy”. Comics is a medium explored to such vast lengths of ideas and it’s tremendous to see a commercial, crowd pleasing Disney corporation try something very different. Of course, this could all change for better or worst in the review for the next episodes so stay tuned! 

Rate: 4 (subject to change) out of 5 stars